Canadian Commitment: Cheryl L Morehouse, BC-HIS
Cheryl L. Morehouse, BC-HIS
In the quarter century since Cheryl L. Morehouse, BC-HIS, opened the doors of Innovative Hearing Solutions, the audiology world has seen nothing less than a technological revolution. As a board-certified hearing instrument specialist and business owner, Morehouse has readily embraced the newest advances, all while maintaining an old-school devotion to patients.
Innovative Hearing Solutions is a fixture in the east Canadian provinces of New Brunswick (three locations) and Nova Scotia (one location). Longevity and clinical excellence have fostered long-term relationships with patients who keep coming back.
Morehouse looks back fondly on countless changed lives, including a man who received hearing aids from her 15 years ago. The man also had macular degeneration and did well with hearing aids for a few years. After he experienced more hearing loss, the hearing aids were not making much of a difference.
“They were better than nothing, but not much better,” recalls Morehouse. “Some new technology came out, but he received advice that hearing aids would not help. He and his wife came back to me, but my experience told me that the new technology was worth a try.”
Morehouse was right, and she and her long-time customer were able to sit across a table from each other and have a normal conversation. “I was so grateful he tried the new technology,” says Morehouse. “His wife was losing her voice because of having to raise it for him. After he got the new technology, he was able to go walking alone, which he had not done in years.”
An Abiding Interest
Growing up with a profoundly deaf brother, Morehouse developed an acute appreciation for the challenges faced by deaf and hard of hearing people. So much has changed since the analog days of the 1960s and 1970s, but Morehouse maintains that the exceedingly low market penetration for hearing aids has remained maddeningly low.
Many older adults are waiting too long, and misconceptions still abound. “After 30 years, the penetration level in the market is no different than when I started, and that is pathetic,” laments Morehouse. “Even though we say we are educating people, I am developing new ideas to motivate people sooner to get the help they need.”
The inevitable psychological process that many clients must go through can be sped up, she says, with a change in terminology. For example, a modification in clinical language may help. “Instead of talking about ‘hearing loss,’ say, ‘You have had a change in your hearing,’” says Morehouse. “And when we are talking about ‘mild, moderate, and severe,’ that does not help. If their loss is ‘mild,’ they may not be motivated to get hearing aids. Instead, say, ‘You have had a change in your hearing and this is what you are missing,’ and let them listen. Forget ‘mild’ and ‘moderate,’ because it’s hard to know how that person perceives these terms.”
During these crucial patient conversations, Morehouse has already ensured a warm and welcoming environment that downplays the “medical” in favor of comfort and good humor. Patients appreciate the potent combination of clinical excellence and jokes that flow freely.
Morehouse sees all patients as individuals with different needs. If that means they need to go elsewhere, she does not hesitate to refer to others. “It all comes down to the best interest of the patient,” says Morehouse. “I recently saw a gentleman with congenital hearing loss, and we had used various hearing aids over the years. During that time, I had been after him to consider a cochlear implant. He was always against it and thought he heard well enough, even though his wife was telling him he did not. And I was telling him the same thing.” After some additional cajoling, the man finally got the assessment and found that he was a prime CI candidate. He kept Morehouse apprised of the entire process and ultimately shared the joy of his newfound hearing.
“After receiving the CI, he heard things such as humming birds that he had never heard before,” says Morehouse. “His wife was ecstatic. He was thankful for all the convincing. In the end, the deciding factor was that he could not hear his grandchildren, and did not want to miss out on that relationship. There are lots of people who are CI candidates that we can’t help anymore. Why not give them the options and choices? I may have lost a paying client, but I have a friend for life.”
Cheryl L. Morehouse, BC-HIS
Innovative Hearing Solutions, Inc
1133 Regent Street, Suite 111
Fredericton, NB, Canada